HC Deb 29 January 1979 vol 961 cc1027-9
34. Mr. Arthur Latham

asked the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker), as representing the Church Commissioners, if he will take steps to make the proceedings of the Church Commission more democratic and publicly accountable and to ensure that all Commissioners are fully informed concerning the management and finances of the Church's properties.

Mr. Terry Walker (Second Church Estates Commissioner)

The Church Commissioners' proceedings are already carried out democratically in accordance with the statutes that govern them. A full account of all their work, including the management and finances of their property, is given each year in the published annual report and accounts which are open to debate in the annual general meeting and transmitted to the Home Secretary, who lays them before both Houses of Parliament. They are also laid before the General Synod and are debated there from time to time.

Mr. Latham

Would not my hon. Friend admit that the property affairs and property management of the Church Commissioners are handled by a small clique of a sub-committee within a committee within the Church Commissioners, and that it does not make its reports available to other Commissioners? Will my hon. Friend say why one set of Commissioners does not trust the rest?

If I believe that some money has been expended improperly, to whom can I turn? If I think that some money is raised in unacceptable ways, where can I go? Will my hon. Friend name the higher authority to which I may appeal?

Mr. Walker

The management of the Commissioners' assets is, by satatue, vested in the Commissioners' assets committee. That committee, if asked, is ready to provide to other Commissioners what information they require over all matters relating either to the property or the finances of the Church Commissioners.

Mr. Stokes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is general satisfaction with the work of the Church Commissioners, which compares very well indeed with that of many other public bodies, including some Government Departments?

Mr. Walker

I think that we have tried over the past few years to keep closely in touch with Members about the affairs of the Commissioners and about the affairs coming from the General Synod.